Rent is a fee you pay in exchange for the use of someone’s property. Apartment rent gives you the right to occupy a residential apartment and the terms of your occupancy are described in the lease. Some of the things a lease covers are the amount of rent, when it’s due and fees or penalties for late payment as well as any tenant restrictions. Exactly how apartment rent works can vary somewhat from one landlord to another, so be sure you understand a lease before you sign it.
Read the Payment Terms
When you rent an apartment, you pay the landlord an amount specified in the lease. Usually rent is paid monthly. The rental amount stays the same for the term of the lease. A one-year lease is the most common, although you may come across landlords who offer lease agreements of different lengths, particularly in a college setting. Rent is due on a date stated in the lease, often the first day of the month. Landlords may allow a grace period. For example, when the rent is due on the first, you might have until the fifth to pay before being hit with a late fee.
Understand What Rent Buys You
Apartment rent pays for the residential space, but it may or may not pay some other things. Some apartment lease agreements include utilities as part of the rent. With others, you are responsible for your own electricity, gas, cable, Internet and water bills. Apartment complexes may offer amenities such as a pool, clubhouse or covered parking. Depending on the landlord’s policy, access to these perks may be included in your rent, or you might have to pay additional fees.
Look For Other Fees
When you move into an apartment, the first month’s rent is usually due in advance. The landlord may want a security deposit as well. The deposit protects the landlord if you don’t pay the rent or you damage the apartment. You’ll get the deposit back when you move out, assuming you leave on good terms. Sometimes landlords ask for the last month’s rent in advance, rather than a security deposit. That’s to your advantage because the last month’s rent can only be used to cover nonpayment of rent and to pay for property damage. If you have a pet, you may have to pay a pet deposit as well. Pet deposits are intended to safeguard the landlord against damage to the unit and common areas caused by your animals.
Consider Having a Roommate
Students often live with roommates when they rent apartments to save money. Roommates can split the rent as they see fit. Arrangements between roommates aren’t a landlord’s concern. If a roommate doesn’t pay his share of the rent, you can still be charged a late fee or even be evicted. That’s true even if you’ve paid your share of the rent. For this reason, it’s a good idea for you and any roommates to have a written agreement that spells out everyone’s obligations.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, W D Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about business, personal finance and careers. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology from Georgia State University. He became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.